Although the statistics vary, somewhere between 80-97% of all substance abuse disorder (SUD) patients at recovery centers are also tobacco users, which even at the low end of the spectrum is a very high number compared to an average 20% of the general population.
It is also known that most of these patients would like to quit smoking in addition to recovering from their other substance addictions.
Unfortunately, many treatment centers either do not offer treatment for nicotine addiction or do not stress its importance in overall addiction recovery.
Some may even encourage smoking as a crutch to be used to aid recovery from other addictions, often considered more severe than tobacco use.
But newer research studies and data gathered from treatment centers shows that tobacco use as a co-addiction can do a lot more harm to patients than previously understood.
If you don’t think smoking is a big deal, read on to find out what all the fuss is about. If you want to quit smoking but don’t know how we can help
The U.S. Surgeon General, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the American Psychiatric Association all agree that nicotine is an addictive substance.
Nicotine is recognized as the most powerfully addictive drug in common use.
Long-term tobacco use/nicotine addiction is known to cause cancer, heart disease, strokes, respiratory problems, and complications with pregnancy.
Addicts in recovery are the most at-risk subgroup for nicotine-related death partially because so many addicts smoke and partly because the combination of smoking with other substance addictions increases the risk of all of the diseases above plus some.
It can also be more challenging to quit a nicotine addiction when you suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol as well.
A staggering finding according to a study in Minnesota published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 36 (2009) 205-215, is that over 50% of deaths among patients in treatment for SUD were related to tobacco use, while only 33% were due to drugs or alcohol.
In other words, a significantly higher number of addicts are dying from nicotine addiction than the drug or alcohol addiction that brought them into rehab!
You come to recovery to get clean and sober.
And nicotine is a highly addictive drug, which is why abstaining from it should be part of your addiction recovery.
According to the Center for Disease Control, “More people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.”
And just as no one in recovery would suggest that you drink to get off heroin or use cocaine to stop drinking, it’s insanity to suggest smoking tobacco will help you abstain from other addictive substances, or that tobacco use is less harmful and can be dealt with after you’re off the more “harmful” substances.
The truth is nicotine addiction can increase your risk of relapse with other drugs and alcohol.
One reason is that nicotine use provides a similar effect in the brain as drugs and alcohol do. Another reason is the habitual use of nicotine with your other drugs or drink of choice.
If you psychologically associate smoking and drinking, for instance, because you usually do them together, it will be that much more challenging to abstain from drinking for the long haul if you’re still smoking.
The third reason for this is that nicotine addiction is just yet another way of stuffing down feelings and emotions that you find intolerable.
This is counterproductive to learning to increase your stress tolerance healthily to achieve and maintain a state of true sobriety and clean time.
Any mind-altering substance needs to be gone from your daily repertoire to be clean and sober truly.
On a spiritual level, you can take this point even further in that any mind-altering substance disconnects you from your Higher Power by taking the place of your true Higher Power.
A Higher Power can be defined as God, the Universe, nature, even your support group.
Whatever you decide you are comfortable with for your recovery that represents a power greater than yourself that can restore you to sanity and serenity from your addictions.
If you can’t stop smoking of your own free will, if you suffer detox symptoms when trying to quit, including cravings for nicotine, guess what has become your Higher Power?
And as you will find if you haven’t yet in your recovery process, anything that comes between you and your Higher Power impedes your recovery and puts your clean and sober time at risk.
The good news is that the tools you are learning to use for your recovery from SUD work the same for nicotine addiction recovery and can be done concurrently while you are in treatment.
In fact, according to information on Drugabuse.com, studies have shown that patients who abstain from tobacco use during their first year of recovery have a 24% higher success rate of maintaining their sobriety and clean time after five years.
So, when shopping for an addiction treatment center, it is essential to find one that will support you in your quest to quit smoking along with your drinking or drug use.
It can be helpful to choose a treatment center that is smoke-free as opposed to a treatment center that allows patients and staff to smoke in designated areas to reduce temptation and completely remove yourself for a time from other smokers.
There is also a 12 Step program specifically to abstain from nicotine use called NicAnon if you are choosing to go the 12 step path in your addiction recovery where you can find help focused on this particular addiction.
This may prove incredibly valuable as many Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings are filled with active smokers.
Fortunately, due to smoking laws, they are not permitted to smoke in the meeting rooms anymore, but outside on breaks and before and after meetings, there tend to be a lot of members smoking, which could be challenging for someone trying to abstain.
And of course, using your tools includes involving other people and asking for help in your recovery from nicotine addiction.
Let’s face it; if you could have quit smoking on your own, you would have done it already.
This is a substance addiction just like the others in that you will have a much higher rate of success at quitting and maintaining clean time then you will if you try to do it alone.
Work with an addiction therapist or counselor and commit yourself to a recovery program around the nicotine addiction. Go to group therapy, support groups, or 12 step meetings.
Connect with fellow addicts trying to abstain from nicotine use. Avoid isolation, making outreach calls when you feel the urge to smoke.
It is so critical to stay connected to those that understand your addiction and have gone through what you are experiencing now to be able to abstain from nicotine use. You can do it if you allow others to support you!
There are different medication options to help you stop smoking that may be helpful in reducing cravings and weaning you off the nicotine to minimize other detox symptoms such as irritability, sleep issues, weight gain, and difficulty focusing.
These include Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) such as chewing gum, transdermal patch, nasal sprays, inhalers, and lozenges as well as non-nicotine medications that target nicotine receptors in the brain such as Bupropion (Zyban®) and Varenicline (Chantix®).
Talk with your doctor or psychiatrist to determine if medication is right for you and which type would be best to try for your particular set of needs.
According to drugabuse.gov, “Both behavioral treatments and medication can help people quit smoking, but the combination of medication with counseling is more effective than either alone.”
If you have had issues with abusing prescription medications in the past, your doctor may have specific recommendations for you regarding medications for nicotine addiction.
Either way, if you are going to use a medication available to help you quit, adding support through a recovery program is recommended.
Just like with other substance addictions, consistent and good self-care is extremely helpful in reducing cravings.
Why? When you get plenty of exercise, sleep, healthy foods, relaxation, and fun time, you will feel overall much more balanced and ready to face any challenges life may throw your way.
In other words, when you’re not in H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired), you have a much higher tolerance for stress when it does appear in your life.
You will be more likely to reach for a helpful tool such as calling a sponsor or therapist when facing a considerable stressor than you will be to reach for a cigarette when you are on top of your game.
But if you’re overly tired, not eating well, etc. and life throws you a curve ball, it could be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back and sends you running for that nicotine fix.
And, according to the CDC, “quitting smoking is hard and may require several attempts. People who stop smoking often start again because of withdrawal symptoms, stress, and weight gain.”
So, it stands to reason that if you are practicing excellent self-care and thus are more balanced overall, you will be less likely to crave those cigarettes!
Do no harm to others or yourself is a fundamental principle of addiction recovery. Smoking harms both your health, your finances, and risks your sobriety and clean time.
And it can also seriously harm those around you that are exposed to your second-hand smoke, the smell of smoke left over on your clothing, in furniture, etc., and if you leave your cigarette butts on the ground, you are potentially harming animals and the environment.
Money spent feeding your addiction could be used to feed your family or someone else’s instead.
Ask any addict with years of sobriety and clean time under their belt – they will tell you that in order to maintain a clean and sober life, it is critical to ensure that you live your best life possible, full of integrity, causing no one intentional harm, taking responsibility and correcting mistakes that you do make, and most importantly being of service to others, staying close to your recovery programs as a result.
Although it can be a challenging process, committing to a truly clean recovery process, free of all drugs and alcohol including nicotine, is a critical first step.
Asking for help and becoming willing to seek out help actively is the next step.
Becoming humble enough to receive the help and follow the guidance of those who have traveled this road before you is paramount to your success.
Once you apply the tools of recovery to your nicotine addiction as well as your other addictions, you will start to experience real changes in your recovery, your health, and your life overall.
You may experience some pitfalls and relapses along the way; these are a normal part of the recovery process.
So, don’t give up! Reach again for your tools, stick close to your support network, and recommit to your recovery again.
You will enjoy greater health, vitality, and wealth; your hair, skin, and nails will look better; and you’ll be able to breathe easier and have more endurance to do all the fun things you want to experience in life.
It may take more than one or two attempts, but with persistence, you will be able to kick those butts to the curb!
The talented and skilled professionals in our Recovery Center understand the relationship between smoking and addiction in the recovery and treatment of addicts. They can help you with your recovery efforts and to understand the importance of dealing with the smoking habit.
If you need help with your recovery, you can get in touch with the Hotline at our Recovery Center where trained and experienced professionals are available to assist you in every way.
The staff at Chateau Recovery is always available to help you with all of your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment. Call anytime.
Please call our toll-free helpline which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed by experienced and caring professionals who can answer your questions and help you navigate through the process of evaluating and securing a treatment program.
If you or someone you love has questions concerning the rehabilitation process, call our free helpline Phone: +1 888-971-2986 for more information. Calls are always confidential, private, and secure.
Should you quit smoking during addiction recovery? Overcoming alcohol or drug addiction is an intimidating challenge for a lot of people. Trying to overcome nicotine addiction at the same time may seem impossible. But you can quit smoking. If you’re committed to overcoming other types of addiction, you should quit smoking too. It’ll make recovery easier, and you’ll feel happier.
Smoking is one habit many people find hard to quit. Find out five reasons why you should stamp out your cigarette addiction and take back control of your life.
Please download and read this in depth report on smoking cessation for recovering addicts.